Monetary transactions in the Zimbabwean economy are now dominated by electronic payment systems with more than 96 percent of local transactions now being conducted through plastic, internet and mobile money.
While the use of electronic forms of payment came as a result of cash shortages, it puts the country ahead of other countries across the globe that are working towards achieving a cashless society. Presenting the 2018 Monetary Policy Statement (MPS) yesterday, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Dr John Mangudya, said the central bank was encouraged by the quantum leap in the usage of electronic and mobile banking systems by the county's banking public.
"The growth in the use of plastic money, away from cash transactions, was phenomenal in 2017 to the extent that more than 96 percent of the $97,5 billion - from the 1 billion transactions - processed in the entire country in 2017 were through electronic and mobile banking systems," said Dr Mangudya.
The RBZ governor said the central bank's (monetary) policy thrust has been a resounding success in the economy as exhibited by the unprecedented increases in values, volumes, devices and access points.
"This is largely attributable to collaborative efforts, commitment, action and market innovation which have continued to drive the plastic money revolution," he said.
Dr Mangudya said the increased use of electronic payment systems will also result in foreign currency savings as well as de-congest banking halls. He said there is need to understand that there is a difference between cash and money and the banking public must adapt to the use of electronic money.
"There is no reason for the banking public to get all that money in cash when there is now widespread use of electronic money."
Among the 23 measures introduced by the central bank, are measures to further accelerate efforts towards a cash-lite society, is the adoption of friendly banking and plastic money payment platforms such as tap-and-go systems and pre-funded cards to enhance the ease of transacting and ease of passage at toll-gates within the country.
"This measure is intended to further promote the use of plastic money, which significantly grew by 210 percent in 2017 from the 2016 position to reach a coverage of more than 80 percent of total retail transactions in the country."
According to the central bank, mobile payments constituted the bulk of payment streams in volume terms in 2017. Out of the more than 1 billion transactions, 754 million were conducted through mobile.
The value of mobile financial services transactions for the year stood at $18 billion, an increase of 210 percent from the $5,8 billion recorded in 2016. In value terms, the RTGS constituted the largest contribution at more than 63 percent after transactions worth $61,7 billion went through the system.
"The RTGS volumes and values increased by 103 percent and 28 percent, respectively, compared to the same period in 2016."
Although the value has increased from $48,1 million prior year, the share has decreased from 69,51 percent prior year comparative.
"On a comparison basis aggregate electronic means of payments in terms of values and volumes grew significantly by 41 percent and 164 percent, respectively, in 2017."
With the RTGS system as well as mobile platforms accounting for the bulk of the transactions, sizeable amounts were also conducted through Point of Sale (POS) machines 7,07 percent and internet banking at 7,48 percent.
Dr Mangudya said the growth can be attributed to the high usage, increased infrastructure and diversity of innovative payment systems products or services approved during the period under review. The growth can also be attributed to the increased deployment of POS by 84 percent to 59 939 in 2017.
According to figures presented in the MPS, all access points recorded a positive growth during the year under review except ATMs, which recorded a one percent decline. Debit cards were up by 37 percent, prepaid cards up by 48 percent and credit cards by 9 percent.
The number of people adopting mobile payment platforms also went up, with mobile payment subscribers increasing by 41 percent to 4,6 million while internet banking subscribers increased by 65 percent to 277 674.